Though Verena Lehner will make women’s basketball history on Friday night as the first European woman ever to suit up for the Yale Elis, she has been barred from competition since 2008 due to what was deemed a violation of NCAA eligibility requirements.
The Austria-born Lehner was discovered to have played under contract for a team in the Österreichische Basketball Bundesliga (a.k.a. the AWBL) during the 2006-07 season, clearly a conflict of statutes that state would-be NCAA players may not have ever been signed to a professional sports contract. Legal representatives managed to successfully appeal to the NCAA based on the argument that Lehner had actually paid out more to the unnamed team than had been compensated her.
Lehner had originally agreed to a full athletic scholarship at University of Louisiana-Monroe, but instead attended Pomfret (Conn.) College Prep, where she went on to be named MVP of the school’s basketball and volleyball teams.
Lehner’s feat as first European to ever suit up for the Elis is doubly impressive (in the greater scheme of things) because Yale, as an Ivy League school, does not offer athletic scholarships.